Assistant Secretary of State Jeffrey D. Feltman told the House Committee on Foreign Affairs this afternoon that Syrian president Bashar al-Assad isn’t going to survive the 5-month long uprising against his regime. “He can’t win this,” said Feltman, head of the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs—which, barring any revisions or corrections coming from the White House, now seems to be the administration’s official assessment. Assad is going down.
Congressman Gary Ackerman seems to want the administration to go even further, saying that Obama should call for Assad to step down. Ackerman calls him a “blood-soaked dictator,” and Feltman seemed to concur. According to the Twitter feed of the Washington correspondent for the Beirut daily Al-Nahar, Hisham Melhem, Feltman said: “[Assad] is not a reformer but someone whose rule relies on terror, theft and torture..change is coming to Syria.”
Feltman knows all about Assad and the Syrians. He was the ambassador to Lebanon when the assassination of former prime minister Rafiq al-Hariri in February 2005 touched off a series of murders and bombings throughout Lebanon, which also included an attempt on Feltman’s own life. It must have been hard for Feltman the last few years as the administration insisted on trying to engage a regime he knew from first-hand experience was incorrigible. If and when the White House takes the final step to turn its back officially on the regime, it will invariably come as a relief to Feltman. In the meantime, he got some shots in this afternoon.